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ANCYL backs SABC management amid anti-censorship debacle

The ANC Youth League said that attacks on the SABC and its leaders were acts of cowardice.

FILE: Members of the media and Right2Know campaigners gathered outside the SABC's offices in Cape Town to protest against censorship on 1 July 2016. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)'s management has found support in the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), as an anti-censorship lobby piles the pressure on the public broadcaster's COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

In a statement issued by the national spokesperson, the league said that attacks on the SABC and its leaders were acts of cowardice.

Civil society organsiations have galvanised support for journalists who are being disciplined for speaking up about censorship and of managerial interference in editorial decisions.

In a slight directed at the SABC's former acting CEO, Jimi Matthews, who resigned last week, the ANC Youth League said that it wanted "quitters to stop complaining about decisions they were part of."

In his resignation letter, Matthews admitted that he had been complicit in many decisions he was not proud of during his tenure.

The league also said, that the SABC should not feel pressure from anyone when disciplining its employees.

"We want to request that the SABC should not feel pressure in dealing with whoever is involved even if the person is an associate of the brother of person who use to be Head of State."

In the last two weeks, the SABC has charged seven employees for raising their concerns either internally or via the media.

Economics editor, Thandeka Gqubule, RSG executive producer, Foeta Krige, and Afrikaans news producer, Suna Venter, were suspended last month for querying a decision not to cover a protest.

Three other employees Busisiwe Ntuli‚ Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp were also charged internally for publicly voicing concerns over a "climate of fear" and low staff morale in their newsrooms.

TV journalist Lukhanyo Calata was the latest to be served with charges yesterday.

He was one of a number of journalists who picketed outside the SABC's Sea Point office on Friday against censorship and the undermining of editorial ethics at the national broadcaster.

Calata is the son of one of the four Cradock civic leaders abducted and killed by security police in the 1980s.

CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS CALL FOR REINSTATEMENT

Civil society leaders said they will hold another picket outside the SABC's offices on Wednesday, to demand editorial and leadership changes at the broadcaster.

Yesterday a delegation led by Zwelinzima Vavi was locked out of the broadcaster's premises despite having a meeting scheduled with Motsoeneng.

Despite his assurances that he would review the suspension of a group of staff members, Motsoeneng has reportedly told civil society leaders that the broadcaster will go ahead with disciplinary action against the employees who have been critical of editorial decisions.

Vavi said that the suspended SABC employees must be reinstated with immediate effect.

"The six journalists must be reinstated unconditionally."

Sekoetlane Phamodi of the Save Our SABC Coalition said that other leaders at the broadcaster must also account for the decay in the editorial policy.

"How is it that the SABC board, who represent our interests as the public, allowing this decay to continue in this way."

Tomorrow the SOS coalition, along with the South African Communist Party and Media Monitoring Africa, will be leading a picket outside the SABC offices to demand answers.

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